Spring arrived Sunday, March 20, with some very pleasant temperatures and sunshine, but apparently, winter will not depart without a struggle. This week’s current forecast shows a precipitation mix on a few days, with highs ranging from 37 to 46 degrees and lows from 13 to 32 degrees. Never fear ‑ spring will prevail (eventually…).
“Travel on the Quiet Lakes’ ice should get better by the day,” says Greg at Happy Hooker. “Most of the snow is melting off and allowing anglers to walk and/or drive on the ice. Many creeks are starting to open, so be mindful if your travel on the ice near inlets or anywhere with moving water.
“Crappies and bluegills are moving into shallower haunts with this warming trend, heading into weed beds where they spawn. Fish will start relating to anywhere there are creek inlets coming into the bays, as the moving water will bring bugs and sediment into these areas and the fish will feed on them. With the stained water in these spot, use bright colors and jig aggressively with bigger plastics or multiple waxies.
“Perch are on the deeper weed edges in these same areas and also feeding on the stuff in the snow melt and runoff. Jigging spoons and bigger tungsten jigs tipped with waxies and minnow heads should fire up the perch, and fish should be active with the warming weather.”
Levi at Hayward Bait says ice conditions are decent, with most of the snow cover melted and walking out is much easier. It is a little slushy and wet, though mostly solid underneath, but walking is the recommendation.
“Crappie action is picking up with the warmer weather and fish are starting to move shallow. Anglers are finding them in 3-10 feet, with 6 feet the best depth, with the best bite in early morning and evening. Tungsten jigs with crappie minnows and waxies work best, but use plastics for the finicky fish. Look for shallow bays and just outside those bays as the weather warms.
“Bluegills are also starting to push shallow and fishing is improving with the warm weather. Anglers are finding fish in 3-6 feet, and the bite best is when the sun is shining, but there is also a good early morning and evening bite. Tungsten jigs with waxies work best for numbers, with plastics very good for bigger fish. Work shallow bays with weeds and fish right in the weeds or just over the top.
“Perch fishing is good with the warmer weather and they continue to move to their spawning sites. Look for mudflats and shallow bays and depths from 5-15 feet. Crappie minnows, fatheads, rosy reds, and waxies work well, with some catches on small spoons.
“Trout bite fishing continues to improve as the river opens with the warm weather.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the Walleye Management Plan comment period.
“Among Wisconsin anglers, we consistently find walleye as the most popular species, but walleyes face many challenges related to climate change, recruitment declines, and habitat degradation.
“For us to deliver the kind of walleye fishing experiences people seek, we must have focused, scientifically supported, and organized walleye management strategies. This is why the Wisconsin DNR is updating its walleye management plan.
“The DNR finalized the first version of the plan back in 1998, making it more than 20 years old. The update process began in early 2020 when we held virtual meetings across the state to gather input from those who love walleye. We also offered a random mail survey, online survey, and online public comment form. Over the past year, we used the survey and comment input, and the most recent science, to update the walleye management plan.
“That updated plan is now available for public review and comment. People interested in viewing the plan and letting us know what they think can do so by visiting https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/fishing/outreach/WalleyePlan. From there, they will find a link to the plan and a form to leave comments for the Wisconsin Walleye Team through May 31.
“Public input was critically important to creating this draft, and we hope people can see how we incorporated their voice and preferences.
“Now, we ask the public to help us further strengthen the plan so we can use it to protect and enhance great walleye fishing opportunities.”
The sale of available spring turkey bonus authorizations began at 10 a.m. Monday, March 21, with a designated sale date for each zone. Bonus authorizations cost $10/residents and $15/non-residents, with equal opportunities for purchase. The authorizations are available for purchase at all license agents and through the DNR’s online license portal GoWild.Wi.Gov. Sales begin at 10 a.m. and run through midnight each day.
The scheduled sales dates are as follows:
- Zone 1 – Monday, March 21
- Zone 2 – Tuesday, March 22
- Zone 3 – Wednesday, March 23
- Zone 4 – Thursday, March 24
- Zone 5 – Friday, March 25
- Zone 6 – No bonus harvest authorizations available (all available permits issued in spring drawing).
- Zone 7 – Friday, March 25
The DNR encourages hunters to check the turkey zone map and bonus authorization availability to see if harvest authorizations are available for the period and zone they wish to hunt. Hunters can purchase bonus authorizations at a rate of one per day until the zone and period sells out or the season closes. Bonus authorization purchases do not affect preference point status for future spring drawings.
The GoWild system uses an online queue to assign random numbers to customers entering the site between 9:45 a.m. and 10 a.m., and adds customers who join after 10 a.m. in order of arrival. After zone-specific sales conclude March 25, all remaining bonus authorizations for all zones will available for purchase at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 26.
All spring turkey hunters must possess a valid spring turkey license, turkey harvest authorization, and a 2022 wild turkey stamp. Hunters who have not already done so must purchase the spring turkey license and stamp authorization when purchasing a bonus harvest authorization.
The 2022 regular spring turkey season begins April 20 and ends May 31, and consists of six seven-day hunting periods running Wednesday through the following Tuesday in seven zones. Refer to the 2021 combined hunting regulations for 2022 spring turkey regulations. For more information, search “turkey hunting” on the DNR website.
The Wisconsin Youth Turkey Hunt is the weekend of April 16-17. This season is for youth hunters younger than age 16. Hunters younger than 12 and youth hunters without hunter safety certification can participate in the hunt through the Mentored Hunting Program. The program requires a qualified adult to accompany a youth hunter and follow all youth turkey hunting and the Mentored Hunting Program rules. Youth hunters must possess a valid spring turkey license, stamp, and harvest authorization. Youth hunters can use a harvest authorization for any period during the youth hunt weekend, but must hunt within the turkey management zone indicated on their harvest authorization.
The Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, on Hall of Fame Drive in Hayward (look for the big musky!), opens for the season April 15. For more information, visit www.freshwater-fishing.org or call (715) 634-4440.
The Family Fishing Expo returns to Hayward Wesleyan Church (on Nyman Avenue) Saturday, April 2, from noon-5:30 p.m. The event offers vendors, workshops, activities for kids, and a bucket auction, with food and refreshments available. Keynote speaker Rev. Mark O. Wilson, former pastor of the church, will speak at 4:30 p.m. For more information, or to volunteer to help with the event, contact Frank Pratt (715) 699-3974; email email@example.com.
SNOWMOBILE/SKI TRAIL REPORT
Snowmobiles must have a current registration and display a valid snowmobile trail pass to operate on public snowmobile trails. You can renew registrations and order trail passes online. Members of the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs (AWSC) can purchase trail passes at a discounted rate directly from www.awsc.org. You do not need to be a Wisconsin resident to be an AWSC member.
The March 21 HLVCB snowmobile trail report notes that the Sawyer County Snowmobile Trail System has closed for the season. Please respect landowners’ property and stay off closed trails.
The March 18 Birkie Trail conditions report says there is a lot of debris on the trail and the crews are not able to groom. Skiing is still great, but depends on temperature. Go early if you want to go fast, but wait until it warms if you want to go slow. Skiing any part of the Birkie Trail System December through March requires a Birkie Trail Ski Pass.
This report concludes snowmobile and ski trail reports for this season.
Most reports indicate ice thickness is maintaining and on-ice travel conditions are improving, though it involves dealing with some slush. Still, it is imperative to use caution as the weather warms and ice starts to deteriorate. Check with your favorite go-to bait shop personnel for the most current information on ice conditions, fish locations, baits, and productive presentations. Consider purchasing your new 2022-23 fishing license fishing license during the visit.
Crappie action is improving, with best success in early morning and evening hours. As the water warms, fish are moving toward weeds, weed beds, bays, and creek mouths in depths to 12 feet. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, waxies, and plastics on bright jigs and jigging spoons. If action is slow or wanes, try downsizing tackle and bait.
Bluegill fishing is good in early morning and evening hours, with best success during sunny days. Fish are starting to move into weeds and weedy bays in depths to 8 feet. Waxies, spikes, and plastics on bright tungsten jigs are working well, with larger plastics producing better big fish action. Do not be shy with your jigging pattern!
Perch fishing is improving as the fish move towards their spawning areas. Look for fish in 4-18 feet on deep weed edges, mudflats, and in/near shallow bays. Crappie minnows, fatheads, rosy reds, minnow heads, and waxies on tungsten jigs and jigging spoons are all catching fish.
March 20: Crow season closed statewide.
March 20: Spring equinox ‑ first day of spring!
March 31: Sawyer County CDAC meeting, 7 p.m. (715-266-6291).
April 2: Family Fishing Expo at Wesleyan Church, Noon-5:30 p.m. (715-699-3974).
April 15: Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame opens for the season (715-634-4440).
April 16-17: Youth Turkey Hunt.
April 30: Trapping seasons close in Northern Zone: Otter; Beaver.
For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau and Hayward Area Chamber of Commerce websites, view the Calendar of Events, or call (715) 634-8662 or 800-724-2992.